Episode 22: Do You Feel Shame Taking Money From the Government?

Jay Goltz, William Vanderbloemen, and Dana White—all of whom took Paycheck Protection Program loans—respond to an opinion piece that says “competent” business owners shouldn’t have had to go begging “shamelessly” for a government bailout, which got a particularly strong response from Jay: “I'm thinking of all of those entrepreneurs who are trying to run a business, trying to make happy customers—restaurants, hair salons trying to survive this whole thing, trying to take care of the emotional, the financial, and the physical needs… They're fighting a good fight, trying to stay in business so they can continue paying taxes, and he comes along and has to call us ‘shameless’ for taking money from the government.... Oh, we’re incompetent, because these people didn't have six months of savings stowed away?"

Episode 22: Do You Feel Shame Taking Money From the Government?

Guests:

William Vanderbloemen is founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

Dana White is founder and CEO of Paralee Boyd hair salons.

Jay Goltz is founder and CEO of Artists Frame Service and Jayson Home.

Producer:

Jess Thoubboron is founder of Blank Word Productions.

Episode Highlights:

William Vanderbloemen: “What I found out this week about William Vanderbloemen is he does better work when he’s at his office.”
Dana White: “If you have employees who are saying, ‘We’d rather stay at home,’ find out why. There’s something there.”
Jay Goltz: “I’m thankful the government gave me the money. It helped. But to use the phrase, ‘We shamelessly begged’?’ For God’s sake. ‘Shamelessly’?”

Full Episode Transcript:

Loren Feldman:
Let’s start with a quick update on where all of your businesses stand. How about you, Dana? Tell us what’s going on with Paralee Boyd.

Dana White:
Paralee Boyd is doing okay. We’ve had some last-minute outbreaks with coronavirus with family so we’ve got some people on the beginning and some on the end of their two-week quarantines.

Loren Feldman:
Employees?

Dana White:
Yes, not me. Employees.

Loren Feldman:
But you’re not open yet, right?

Dana White:
No, we can be, but I’ve decided to wait, and we just figured out what that opening date was today. Now that we know that everybody’s tests are in, we know who’s sick and who’s not. And so now that we know who’s sick, we know how much time we need in order to open. I’ll be sending that email out probably tomorrow, letting all of our guests know when we will be back open.

Loren Feldman:
When did it become okay for you to open?

Dana White:
June 15th.

Loren Feldman:
What date are you thinking?

Dana White:
July 6th.

Loren Feldman:
What are you going to do about the employees who are sick? Are you going to have to test your employees?

Dana White:
Yeah, my staff are being tested anyway before they come back. None of my employees are sick, but either their children or the parents they live with are sick.

Loren Feldman:
So it’s in the house.

Dana White:
In the house, right, and they’re helping with care. They’re all quarantining in the home. So what we’re going to do is: one, everybody’s being tested anyway to come back, and then we’re just going to have them test to make sure that they’re negative. I’m going to see how many tests we’re allowed to do, because I want to do it every two weeks, and then getting that team in place to come and sanitize the salon after we start, probably once a week.

There are a lot of moving parts to opening a salon that a lot of salons aren’t doing. They think, “Oh, I’ll put on gloves and a face mask and we’ll be okay.” No, Sweetie. There’s more to it than that now that Michigan is having a spike.

Loren Feldman:
When you say you want to see how often you’re allowed to do the tests—allowed by whom? What are you referring to?

Dana White:
Oakland County and Wayne County—the city of Detroit—have been really great about helping businesses reopen. They’re allowing us and our staff to get free testing at the sites in the counties. I don’t know if you’re only allowed to do one. I don’t know if you’re allowed to do two. I’ll find out. And if you are only allowed to do one, what is the cost of a second one, especially when we have people coming back on the tail end of a quarantine?

Loren Feldman:
I didn’t realize Michigan was spiking again. How bad is it?

Dana White:
Not bad. It’s not Texas or Arizona or Florida. But you’re seeing some of the Memorial Day cases start to come to fruition—it’s what happened with my employee’s son. He said, “Oh, the ban is lifted,” in early June, so he and some friends hopped in a car and drove to Miami and just spread it on their way back up. And by the time he came back, he was sick.

Loren Feldman:
William, I think Dana just gave you a call-out there. She mentioned Texas, and I believe you guys have been setting a record every day the last few days.

William Vanderbloemen:
We set records every day all the time, Loren. That’s what Texans do. I mean, our airport is not even an international airport. It’s an “intercontinental airport.” I don’t know what that even means, but yeah, we’re setting records.

Loren Feldman:
And what does that mean for you?

William Vanderbloemen:
Nothing. Nothing at all, actually. Even the most conservative churches in town are opening up with some really creative things. What I’m seeing in my little corner of the world is, yes, a rise in cases, but our numbers in the ICU are actually dropping rather significantly and the hospital intake that’s happening is on general floors and not ICU. It’s not as dire as some would say. Now, I think out in the western part of the state where there are a lot of meatpacking plants, it’s different. I think for inmates in prisons, it’s very, very different and unfair. But for the business world that we’re working in, I’m not seeing a lot of change.

Loren Feldman:
Are you going back into the office? What percentage of capacity would you say you’re operating at?

William Vanderbloemen:
Great question. I’m in my office now. It’s funny—you guys saw it—I set up my little bunker in my house and loved it and really kind of mourned packing it up and bringing stuff back up here. I told Adrienne—this week was my first week back in the office—I kind of bemoaned having to come up here. Then I got home, and last night over dinner, I said, “You know Adrienne, I got more done when I was at work than when I was at home.” She said, “Yeah, well, that’s not surprising, William. That’s what I’ve been saying.” She likes me. [Laughter] We have an A team and a B team so that if we have a positive test, we can just quarantine the B team and tell them not to come back.

Loren Feldman:
But you haven’t had any positives so far?

William Vanderbloemen:
Not yet. We’re at about 25 percent capacity. We could be higher if we wanted. We decided to wait until after the Fourth [of July]. Most of our work can be done fairly well remotely. We don’t have the issues that Jay and Dana face of having to have a real storefront quite as much. So on July 6th—we were just going over this with staff—we’ll go back to everyone in the office. We’re still limiting travel for our consultants. That’ll start in August.

Loren Feldman:
Are you getting any pushback? Everybody happy to come back into the office, or are people—

William Vanderbloemen:
Not at all. People are complaining quite a bit.

Loren Feldman:
Based on concerns about health?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yes. It’s not, “I don’t want to come back to an office.” We have a great team, and “complaint” is probably too strong a word, so don’t put that in the little blurb to get people to read the Morning Report. [Laughter] But I am actually running into this with several small business owners who do in-person who have great cultures and a high quotient of millennials, and they’re very concerned about health.

Then somewhere underneath that—and I don’t think this is true for our team, but the other small business owners I’ve talked to—somewhere underneath the health concern is, “I really like working from home and I think I can still get my stuff done, so do I have to come back in?” No one’s saying that out loud, but it’s an undercurrent in other businesses that I’m hearing. My people, what I’m hearing is, “We just want to be really careful.” I’ve got new mothers on staff who are worried about babies, and so I don’t think it’s a lack of desire to want to work.

Loren Feldman:
Jay, do you have both of your companies open again?

Jay Goltz:
Artists Frame Service is now open. People are coming in. We’ve got plexiglass shields hanging, and I’ve gotta tell you, people are coming in and are happy to be in. My home store has been open. We’re selling lots of plants. My wholesale business, Bella, selling to other frame shops, is getting orders now. Everybody’s back to work. I’m going through the last week of shifting the factory, doing staggered shifts because we’re doing enough business that we need everyone there.

Now I have my CFO coming in—I have to give you the picture—I’m wearing a mask, he’s wearing a mask, and he goes, “Yeah, listen, no one in accounting wants to come back to work. They want to work from home.” I have to say to him, “Jim, my mouth is hanging open under my mask. Really?” So we’re gonna have to rethink that whole thing, and it’s not that simple. There’s lots of—

Loren Feldman:
Why don’t they want to come in?

Jay Goltz:
Because they like staying home. It’s like I keep thinking, “Okay, all right, we’re almost back to normal now.” I actually went out to lunch in an outdoor thing and felt like, “Oh my god. Look, I’m eating lunch outside.” I thought, “Back to normal.” So now I come back to this, and I can’t wait to see what Monday brings me.

Yeah, they want to work out of home. Nice. Good for them. Keep in mind now, I’m not downtown, they don’t have to pay for parking. Many of them live seven minutes away, so it’s not like, “Oh my God, I don’t have to sit in traffic for an hour and a half.” We’re looking at it all, but what do you do about new employees who need to be trained?

Here I am, almost by myself in the office with my payable person, and no one else is here. I have to call the CFO every couple… it’s not ideal. With that being said, I recognize that, with the internet, with computers, the world has changed. Some of this we can do from home, so I’m keeping an open mind to it, but—

Loren Feldman:
I’ve been reading a lot about people discovering how productive everybody can be working from home. There’s been a lot of happy talk about how eyes have been opened, and there’s a whole new world here, and people are not going to be going back into their offices and businesses are going to save money because they aren’t going to need all of that commercial [space]. And what I’m hearing here today is a little bit different.

William Vanderbloemen:
What I found out this week about William Vanderbloemen is he does better work when he’s at his office.

Dana White:
My friend works for a major company here in Detroit and they have found that their staff is a lot more productive from home. Projects are moving along faster. They have been told they don’t have to come back into the office until January because that’s just how well things are going and they can save money on the space.

Loren Feldman:
That story has been written a lot. I’ve seen a lot of that.

Jay Goltz:
I will guarantee you some professor at Harvard or somebody from somewhere is going to write this big article in six months or a year that says, “Oh my! Wait, we thought we were going to save 7 percent In occupancy costs with our offices, but gee, it turns out that our output’s down by 20 percent,” because there’s a little bit of la-la land going on here. The fact of the matter is, what about when you’ve got employee turnover, and they’re not the same people who have been with you for eight years? The brand new employee gets hired. Who’s training them?

William Vanderbloemen:
You’re getting me fired up, Jay. You need to come down here and sing it. We have not added a staff person under these circumstances. I want to see what onboarding looks like, and I think that we are in sort of a utopian la-la land, as you say.

Dana White:
Well, I just hired three people virtually.

Loren Feldman:
How’d that go?

Dana White:
It’s going great. They’re doing their training courses where we can see how far along they’ve gone in their training, we can see where they stumble.

Loren Feldman:
These are stylists?

Dana White:
Well, we’ve done stylists virtually, as far as they do their model via Zoom, and we’re watching for things. But we’re not going to stay with that because there’s things we want to see up close. But I’m seeing that there are things I need to get done at Paralee Boyd before we open, and I’m not going to wait until we can all get together to do it. I find that the hiring is going great.

Loren Feldman:
Dana, you expressed months ago on the podcast, I believe, that you had some concern about whether employees were going to want to come back or not. Are you hiring now because employees did not want to come back?

Dana White:
No, I’m hiring now because there are employees that we didn’t want to come back. I am happy to say that over 90 percent of my staff are leaving their current job and are coming back because they loved working there.

Loren Feldman:
Their “current job” meaning that they found other employment during this period?

Dana White:
Yeah, but some of them didn’t have the hours to get the full-time unemployment benefit that was making everybody not want to come back. That ends in July. Everybody is ready to go July 6th.

Jay Goltz:
I want to be very, very clear. I am sure in some cases—people who do computer programming, maybe graphic design, people who work in cities where the traffic’s horrendous, people who pay $30 a day for parking—I am sure there are a lot of situations where this will work out great.

Loren Feldman:
How about accounting?

Jay Goltz:
I doubt it, in my case.

William Vanderbloemen:
How about people with small children in their house? Because I’m not seeing that work.

Jay Goltz:
Right. Well, I’ll give you the other one, which is, I can’t think of all of the great ideas that we’ve come up here with people sitting around talking. We’ve come up with these great advertising things, great ideas, collaborative thinking, collaborative talking, collaborative people working together. And then there’s bringing in the new employees.

A while ago, a couple years ago, I had a new graphic designer, very talented, and I found out that half the day, she sat in her office crying—literally. My other employees would go, “Do you know, every time I go in there, she’s crying?” This person, unfortunately, was a complete mess. How would I know that if she was sitting at home?

Dana White:
No, there’s definitely a benefit to interpersonal communication and whatever. But I think the biggest thing I would challenge you guys with is: if you have employees who are saying, “We’d rather stay at home,” find out why. What is the culture in that department that makes them not prefer to come in? And it’s not that they want to necessarily stay home with their kids when we’re just coming on the heels of a pandemic. Everybody’s itching to get out. But if it’s not something that you’re offering, and they’re coming to ask you for it, I would wonder, “Hmm, what is it about this department, this work environment, that is making people more comfortable staying at home than coming in at the end of a pandemic?”

Nobody asked me that. When I wanted to stay at home, there was a reason I didn’t want to come into the office every day. Nobody cared. We like everybody talking to each other, eating lunch in the break room, stopping by each other’s office and saying, “Hi”, having that interpersonal connection. There’s a reason why I wanted to forego that, and there may be a reason why your accounting department wants to forego that.

Jay Goltz:
That’s a fair question. I would just tell people, after everything that’s been going on for the last 12 weeks, I would suggest the best approach isn’t to plop into your boss’ office and go, “Hey, I want to keep working from home.” I might suggest it’d be better to say, “Hey, how has it been working with me home? I think I’ve actually been more productive in areas. I’d like to talk to you about maybe making some adjustments.” Do a little soft sell, don’t just go dumping. Because I’ve gotta tell you, it’s like, really? A soft sell would be better.

Dana White:
Are you asking the question, though?

Jay Goltz:
I haven’t gotten that far yet.

Dana White:
Get that far. There’s something there. There’s a reason why they feel better working at home at the end of a pandemic than coming into the office.

Jay Goltz:
Well, listen, part of it is the pandemic. No question. I respect that. There are some people who are afraid of getting it. Okay, fair enough. That’s part of this. I’m just telling you …

Loren Feldman:
Jay, have those accountants been working straight through, during the pandemic, from home?

Jay Goltz:
My controller’s been working straight through. The payable person comes in every couple days. My CFO has been home every day, yeah.

Loren Feldman:
And has it been okay?

Jay Goltz:
I have to decide whether they’ll be listening to this podcast or not. [Laughter]

Loren Feldman:
They’re not. They’re definitely not. They told me.

Jay Goltz:
Okay, you call someone—I won’t mention names—and all of a sudden, you’re engaged in a conversation with their spouse that you really didn’t necessarily want to have. And all of a sudden, you find out that their spouse knows all about your business, and they’re giving you their input on it. Now all of a sudden, I don’t have the person working for me. I’ve got them and their spouse working for me.

Dana White:
That’s professionalism, though. I think if you set up a work-at-home kind of dynamic, that’s a conversation. That’s what they’re doing at my friend’s company. They’re saying, “Okay, now that you’re going to be working at home until January, here are the rules.”

Jay Goltz:
Fair enough. If someone calls you and the caller ID says it’s the company, please don’t have anyone else answer the phone. Just let it go to messages. Fair enough.

Dana White:
It’s like going to an office party and then somebody’s spouse walks up to you and says, “Hey Jay, about that new accounting software. My husband thinks it’s awful.” You know, that’s just unprofessional.

Jay Goltz:
Here’s my favorite one: a holiday party. For those of us who’ve been married a long time, think about how this one comes off. A young woman walks up to the wife of the guy who’s in charge and goes, “Oh my God, I love your husband. He’s so easy to talk to.” How do you think that goes over on the way home? “Oh, you can’t talk to me at home, but…”

Dana White:
I mean, I got it, but that’s just… wow.

Jay Goltz:
If you’re married for 30 years, trust me, you’d say to yourself, “Oh, that’s not gonna end well.” And as expected, it didn’t. He got the earful on the way home.

Loren Feldman:
Are you speaking about a friend, Jay?

Jay Goltz:
No, no, this was an employee who’s no longer here. The key is, this might be great for the employee, but you know what? How’s it working for the company? Sometimes it isn’t just what’s great for the employee. Sometimes it’s like, “Okay, I get it’s good for you. You can work in pajamas and you don’t have to drive. Okay, great for you. How’s that helping the company now that I can’t walk by an office and make a quick comment or ask a question?”

Loren Feldman:
Well, as you acknowledged before, there is still a medical issue. There is still a reason to be careful for the moment. And there is an advantage to the company having fewer people in the office.

Jay Goltz:
Wait, wait, wait. Let me stop you on that. Not really. I own this building. If they’re in their offices or not, I’m not paying for more office space. That’s a fallacy, that it’s always saving money.

Loren Feldman:
No, from a medical standpoint, I’m talking about.

Jay Goltz:
Absolutely. For sure, the medical thing. Let’s assume that the pandemic is going to go away at some point. Once we’re back to some kind of normal without a pandemic, there’s no great advantage to me to have to pick up the phone and call my employee every time I want to go, “Oh by the way, did you pay the invoice for blah blah?” There’s no big advantage for me in this whole thing.

Loren Feldman:
Could be a while though. William, I wanted to go back to you. You talked about the capacity you’re up to now. I forget the exact number that you used, but what’s limiting that? Is that self-imposed, or are your clients not back in gear yet? Why are you at that point?

William Vanderbloemen:
A little bit of both, but self-imposed would be the main reason. As we discussed on the podcast back in mid-March when this started to get clear, our business hinges on churches and schools and nonprofits. And so, two thirds of that, which is more than two thirds of our business—churches and schools—aren’t meeting. We had to recalibrate, and we recalibrated and set new second quarter ambitious but attainable goals, and we’ve hit all those. It’s not that the clients aren’t open. We’ve got plenty to do, and we’ve done all these service projects on the side, like the PPP program and such. It’s more us.

If I’m really honest, I’d rather see someone else pay the stupid tax of opening too soon. I want to learn from somebody who goes a little quicker than us, because we can take our time a little. Little things like, we’re only on the fifth floor, but it does require an elevator. How are we going to do that in a way that provides safety and peace of mind for our people? Or break rooms or the coffee pot—all that kind of stuff. I think we’ll get there, but I am horrible at inventing wheels. I’m really good at improving other people’s wheels, so I’m gonna let some of the rest of the building open up first and then bring our people back when I can learn from what they’ve done and improve.

Jay Goltz:
I will tell you, at the moment with the pandemic, stay home. Whatever problems I’m talking about are minimal compared to somebody getting sick. So until the pandemic’s done, stay home. Not a problem, if they can. I’m not pushing it. Long-term though, I don’t know that I want to change the way the whole business works because somebody found out, “Oh, I like not driving seven minutes to work. I want to stay home.”

Dana White:
But I just think you should stay open to the fact that there’s a reason why they may—

Jay Goltz:
There might be another reason.

Dana White:
Outside of the pandemic, there may be another reason why they don’t see it through your eyes.

Jay Goltz:
Well, if Laura was on here, she’d say, “It’s because they hate me.” [Laughter] So that could be the case. But Dana, you’re way too nice to say that.

Dana White:
No, I don’t think it’s because they hate you. But I do think you’re saying, “Hey, this is what I want. I’m the leader. So if I think we work better like this, then we do.” I’m saying there might be a red flag in that accounting department where—

Jay Goltz:
You know what? In this case, I have to tell you, there could be. Because there is some tension in there. You might be onto something with that.

Loren Feldman:
Dana, I have to ask you now that you have an open date, we’ve spent a good bit of time talking about the pricing of your services. Have you made a decision about whether or not you’re going to raise your prices when you reopen?

Dana White:
Absolutely. Day one, raising prices. Done.

Loren Feldman:
Whoa.

Jay Goltz:
Woo, graduation day!

Dana White:
I know.

Loren Feldman:
You’re gonna go from $40 to…?

Dana White:
Fifty.

Loren Feldman:
Good for you.

Dana White:
I’ve talked to other stylists. I’ve talked to other business owners. Their advice to me is, “Dana, you haven’t raised your prices in seven years. What are you doing?”

Jay Goltz:
It’s basic math: X amount of heads at $40. If you lost 20 percent of the people but got $50, your gross sales haven’t gone down and you’re working less. It’s not brain surgery. It’s just math.

Loren Feldman:
You’ve told your stylists and you didn’t get any pushback from them?

Dana White:
No, they clapped.

Loren Feldman:
That’s when you know it’s time to raise prices. You did tell us that you were concerned about how you would let your customers know about this, and you wanted to let them know in advance and give them some time to let it sink in. Are you doing that? Are you still concerned about that?

Dana White:
Yes. The communication has not been my strongest point when it comes to my guests, so that’ll be done through the weekend and over the weeks leading up to opening. I want to do a video and email that out to my customers saying, “This is what we’re going to do to pick up where we left off, going forward,” and some of the changes that they can expect to see going forward, keeping them safe and our guests safe. But I am going to talk about the price increase. I think, like Jay said, it’s about not being afraid.

I think a lot of business owners, as I was, are nervous and afraid to do what you have to do to keep your business afloat. And it’s not that, “Oh, I needed to do it or my business was going to fail.” Well in time, it was. But I have to remember I’m a businesswoman. Of the 21 hats we wear, that can be the one hat that we forget. We become the employer first. We become the social worker sometimes. But the businesswoman, in regards to making and earning money, that hat can be put away. I had to dust it off and say, “How could Paralee Boyd better fit?” and Paralee Boyd, after seven years, needs to raise her prices $10 so she can make money, because I’m a businesswoman and that’s what I’m here to do. It’s not my sole purpose, but it is the purpose. I am not a nonprofit.

Jay Goltz:
Sometimes we are a nonprofit. That’s the problem.

Dana White:
Sometimes we are, but we’re not supposed to be.

Jay Goltz:
No, and the other thing is, people need to get over guilt, like you’re not killing anybody. You’re charging a reasonable amount that it takes you to make a profit.

Loren Feldman:
I was expecting Jay to jump in with that. You sounded a little bit apologetic about wanting to make a profit, and I figured I’d let Jay do the dirty work here.

Dana White:
I used to be apologetic. I was before, but now I’m like, “Let’s do what I need to do.”

Jay Goltz:
I have years of experience talking to picture frame store owners, many of which, probably half of which, barely make a living. This is the line you hear from them, “Well, I don’t want to rip anyone off.” Oh, for God’s sake, we’re not ripping anyone off. Here’s the other one. “Well, I want to be fair.” There’s no such thing as fair. Here’s the word: “appropriate.” You want to charge the appropriate price. What does that mean? The appropriate price is the price [where] you can make a living and that your customers will pay. That’s the appropriate price. There’s no fair in this. There’s no ripping people off.

If you asked me, “Jay, what is the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?” I will tell you in one second: I’ve always been hesitant to raise prices. It’s cost me a zillion dollars over the years, so I’ve been there myself. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Dana White:
You can’t be afraid to do what’s right for your business. You just can’t.

Loren Feldman:
All right, so we only have a few minutes left, and I want to get to the conversation that Jay has been dying to have for about three days. In the Morning Report this week, we ran an opinion piece from an entrepreneur who I know well named Gene Marks. He wrote, in respect to business owners who have been getting PPP money—and all three of you have—he wrote:

“Many of us complain about government interference. We resist regulations. We avoid paying taxes. We don’t want the government in our lives. Why should we? We can make it happen without anyone’s help. It’s a free market. ‘For goodness sake, just leave us alone and let us do our thing. Thank you very much.’ That’s what I heard. That’s what I’ve even said.

“Now, let’s flash forward. You know what I’m hearing a lot from those very same entrepreneurs, fiercely independent entrepreneurs, myself included? What I’m hearing now is, ‘Where’s my government bailout check?’ We had our hands out for paycheck protection money as soon as it was available. We shamelessly begged for disaster loans and other aid. And when the money didn’t come fast enough, we complained. We make up these fairy tales about our courageous entrepreneurism and we tell everyone that we’re brave business owners, but we’re not. We are not without the need for our own government safety net when the you-know-what hits the fan.”

Loren Feldman:
Thoughts anybody?

Dana White:
Jay?

Jay Goltz:
Um, you left out one paragraph.

Loren Feldman:
I left out several.

Jay Goltz:
I know Gene. I like Gene. Gene’s a nice guy. I am horrified he wrote this. If I was his editor, I could have fixed it by just taking out a couple of sentences. Here’s the sentence you left out:

“Not all business owners I know needed a government bailout. Why? Because they know how to competently run a business. They stored away reserves for a rainy day, even a month-long monsoon like this one. They have low-maintenance lifestyles and flexible overheads.”

How dare he? That is the most smug, condescending, insulting, ignorant, disrespectful and just plain mean comment. And I understand where he’s coming from. Gene has fashioned his business by working out of his condo—his house—and he has a lot of contract employees, and it works for him. More power to him. But to suggest that the rest of us should figure out how to have flexible overheads and be competent to run a business, to suggest that, “Oh Dana, if you were competent, you would have known to put a few hundred grand in the bank in case things went bad. And William, if you were competent, you wouldn’t have had any real employees. You would have had all contract labor and you’d be working out of your house.”

How dare he say that to the restaurant owners, to the hair salons, to the people who have signed leases, to the people who can’t be flexible, to the people who have grown their businesses? And then to add insult to injury, he finishes it with, “We make up these fairy tales about our courageous entrepreneurism. We tell everyone we’re brave business owners.” Yes, we are. Yes, we provide jobs. Yes, we pay taxes. How about this one? I have paid probably 100 million dollars in sales tax, real estate taxes, payroll taxes.

I’m saying I’m thankful the government gave me the money. It helped. I don’t think I would have gone out of business, but it would have been extremely difficult. But to use the phrase, “We shamelessly begged”? For God’s sake. “Shamelessly”?

So yeah, I like Gene. I’m sorry that Gene didn’t have an editor to catch this. I would hope he would get that perspective. I have to finish with, he wrapped himself in 24 “we’s” in this article. “We, we, we.” He’s not really talking about “we.” He’s talking about “us.” Because my guess is, he didn’t take the PPP, and he’s sitting there on his smug ass now thinking, “Look how smart I am. I’ve got only contract employees, or mostly. I didn’t have to take the PPP.”

Loren Feldman:
Jay, I’ve gotta stop you there. I think you’re wrong about that. Actually, I know you’re wrong about that. He wrote, “You know what I’m hearing a lot from those very same fiercely independent entrepreneurs, myself included? Where’s my government bailout check?” He asked for it too. He got it too.

Jay Goltz:
Okay, well, then I get the point of his article: “Don’t complain about the government and then want their money.” Okay, fair enough. Like I said, this whole thing would have been fine without those couple of sentences. I really have a problem with the “competently” run the business and “shamelessly begged.” I have a real problem with those two—

Loren Feldman:
William, do you think Gene had a point?

William Vanderbloemen:
Oh, I don’t know how to figure out what’s right for Gene. I’m just trying to figure out what’s right for me. We’ve got clients that are churches that could have really benefited from PPP, but were filled with members who were small business owners, and early in the PPP, “Is there enough money? Is there enough money? Is there enough money?” I had pastors who felt guilty about applying for it because they might be depriving their members of money that might help their business. I think it’s a complex thing. I think Gene’s piece… I mean, categorical imperatives sell, right? “It must be this way. We all did this.” It’s just not that easy.

Loren Feldman:
Generalizations are dangerous.

William Vanderbloemen:
They are, and I think Loren, and not to go all religious on people, but there’s a line in the Old Testament scriptures or the Jewish scriptures, however you want to read them, about these men called the sons of Issachar, and what were they known for? They were known for being able to read and understand their time. I think that’s the key for me, is, “What’s right for our company in this time? How do I read it? How do I understand it?” I guess maybe I’m just getting dumber, but I think if there’s something I would disagree with Gene’s article [about], it’s the categorical imperatives, because I just don’t think they apply.

Jay Goltz:
What about the phrase “shamelessly begged”? How do you feel about that? Do you feel like you shamelessly begged for the money from the government?

William Vanderbloemen:
I didn’t beg. I filled out a form.

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, did you feel shame in it? I sure didn’t.

William Vanderbloemen:
No, not a bit.

Jay Goltz:
Dana, did you feel shame? Did you feel shame getting money from the government?

Dana White:
No.

Jay Goltz:
Okay. That’s all I wanted to say.

Loren Feldman:
I don’t think any business owner should feel shame for taking money from the government. That said, and I think we all know this, there are a lot of business owners who have spent a lot of time disparaging the government for everything, for regulation, for—

Jay Goltz:
You’re right. He’s right. No question.

Loren Feldman:
Jay, you and I once did an event in Atlanta where I had to debate another business owner. We were talking about what the minimum wage should be, and his answer was, “There shouldn’t be any minimum wage. This is America. People should make it on their own. That’s the way we do things here.” I know, Jay, that you do not agree with that, but I don’t think it set you off as much as what Gene said.

Jay Goltz:
No, no, I told you, I would have been perfectly fine with this whole thing without those two phrases. They know how to “competently” run a business and they “shamelessly”—without that? Fair enough. Stop complaining about the government. I don’t complain about the minimum wage thing. I think the government does some good stuff. I’ve said the SBA loans are a wonderful thing. So I totally get his point with all that. With that being said, I’m a little worn out—I have to tell you, this got me really upset. How dare he say that?

Loren Feldman:
Why did it get you so upset?

Jay Goltz:
Because I’m fighting a three-front war here. And I don’t even take this personally. I’m thinking of all of those entrepreneurs who are trying to run a business, trying to make happy customers—restaurants, hair salons trying to survive this whole thing, trying to take care of the emotional, the financial, and the physical needs… They’re fighting a good fight, trying to stay in business so they can continue paying taxes, and he comes along and has to call us “shameless” for taking money from the government? Or this is the one that was even worse: “competently” run a business. Oh, we’re incompetent because these people didn’t have six months of savings stowed away?

Dana White:
That’s how I felt. When we first closed in March, and we were on the podcast, and we were all talking, and I said, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do.” Part of me not knowing what to do was me sitting there, reflecting over the fact of all that I hadn’t done. And part of the reason why I thought about closing is because if I didn’t have three to six month’s reserve in the bank, what type of business owner am I if I need the help?

I spoke with my mentor, who owns several companies, whose revenues are in hundreds of millions of dollars, and he said, “So I guess I’m a failure. I’ve been in business over 30 years.” And I said, “Oh gosh, no.” He goes, “Well, I need the PPP and I’m going to take that EIDL, too.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because anybody who has hundreds of thousands of dollars saved up and is a competent business owner is reinvesting that money in the business.” That’s it.

Jay Goltz:
And he’s not a journalist. If he was a journalist, maybe I’d cut him some slack and go he doesn’t understand. Just remember the world I’m living in, the world we’re all living in. These entrepreneurs are drowning, are afraid they’re gonna lose their businesses, and he’s got to finish it up with, “We tell everyone that we’re brave business pioneers, but we’re not” No we are.

Loren Feldman:
And on that note, we are out of time. My thanks to Dana White, to William Vanderbloemen, and to Jay Goltz. Be careful out there.